Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A grazier survey of the long-term productivity of leucaena (Leucaena leucocephala)-grass pastures in Queensland

A. Radrizzani A B C , S. A. Dalzell A B , O. Kravchuk A and H. M. Shelton A B D
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Land, Crop and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Qld 4072, Australia.

B School of Animal Studies, The University of Queensland, Qld 4072, Australia.

C Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA) Santiago del Estero, Jujuy 850, 4200, Santiago del Estero, Argentina.

D Corresponding author. Email: m.shelton@uq.edu.au

Animal Production Science 50(2) 105-113 https://doi.org/10.1071/AN09040
Submitted: 11 March 2009  Accepted: 14 October 2009   Published: 11 February 2010

Abstract

Leucaena leucocephala subsp. glabrata (leucaena)-grass pastures are productive, perennial and long-lived (>40 years). However, little is known about changes in the productivity of these pastures as they age even though they are grazed intensively and are rarely fertilised. A postal survey of beef cattle producers in Queensland who grow leucaena pastures was conducted. The questionnaire gathered information regarding: property location; extent and age of leucaena pastures; soil type; leucaena and grass establishment methodology; grazing and fertiliser management; and grazier perceptions of changes over time in leucaena productivity, grass growth and ground cover, prevalence of undesirable grasses and weeds, and livestock productivity. Graziers were asked to report on both young (≤10 years old) and aging (>10 years old) pastures under their management. Eighty-eight graziers responded describing 124 leucaena paddocks covering 11 750 ha. The survey results described the typical physical and management characteristics of leucaena pastures in Queensland. Graziers reported a decline in leucaena productivity in 58% of aging pastures, and declines in grass growth (32%) and livestock productivity (42%) associated with declining leucaena growth. Leucaena decline was greater in soil types of marginal initial fertility, particularly brigalow clay, soft wood scrub, downs and duplex soils. Maintenance fertiliser was not applied to most (98%) leucaena pastures surveyed despite significant amounts of nutrient removal, particularly phosphorus and sulphur, occurring over prolonged periods of moderate to high grazing pressure. It is predicted that large areas of leucaena pasture will continue to suffer soil nutrient depletion under current management practices. Research is needed to develop ameliorative actions to reinvigorate pasture productivity.


Acknowledgement

A. Radrizzani received a PhD scholarship from INTA to study in Australia.


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